For weeks I have been ruminating over the whole isolation and distancing scenario, trying to figure out how it is effecting me, and observing how it seems to be effecting others, what we are being told, too. I imagine you are doing the same.
It occurs to me that social distancing in general is actually somewhat agreeable to me. First of all, I don’t like crowds or crowded situations, that’s obviously an advantage. Also I don’t appreciate the smell of certain individuals who either wear too much perfume/after shave, or who choose not to bathe regularly or who consume great volumes of garlic, or who have boisterous children. Keeping some distance is fine with me. I miss hugs.
However, these words advertising a new tv show really hit a nerve:
…a lifestyle show for a world where nobody has a life.
What on earth are they talking about? I have a life. We all have lives right now. They may not be exactly the same as the ones we had a few months ago, but they are our lives and for most of us there is still some room for a variety of experiences within them. I resent someone telling me I don’t have a life. I’m well aware that for the elderly who are being kept isolated from visitors and loved ones, and for the young families, isolated together while trying to home school and work from home, for carers and first responders and for those who have lost jobs or own small struggling businesses, it is very tough. But for a number of us the change has not been devastating. It has been inconvenient at times, for sure, but isn’t life this way from time to time anyway? And aren’t there always people who have it better or worse than us? Didn’t Australia just experience the worst bush fires ever recorded? Those were hellish and mostly completely out of anyone’s control. To be sure, I know people who have been hurting. But we all still have a life, which means we have possibilities and choices.
Looking after a home and the inhabitants’ needs, requires conscious living. It always has, and it still does.
There have been the well publicised shortages, some of which are ongoing in the form of empty shelves, thankfully, no longer people fighting over things. This has highlighted in our home one of the ways in which I manage it—I always keep a backup of things we use regularly, in the pantry. This meant that when we came home from being away and the world had changed, we did not have to worry about desperate procurement of toilet paper, soap, sugar etc. This is called planning and organisation and I have always done it. Previously, it has been met with humorous derision in the form of me ‘always being prepared for a small famine’. No one is laughing now. I’m not a hoarder, just someone who plans a little bit ahead. Partly that comes from living in a place where unexpected weather events sometimes cause shortages of products, both food and otherwise. When the railway line is flooded, goods can’t get to us. If there is a drought or cyclone in an area where certain fruits or vegetables are grown, we may have a lean season. I remember Dad telling me, running out of things causes urgency and inefficiency and it can be avoided by just anticipating one’s needs.
‘Now’ is part of life. And we still have a Now, though sometimes challenging.
Recently I broke a tiny corner off a back tooth. It was very sharp. Thankfully, our dentists are doing emergency work. I had to be at the dentist at 8.30 in the morning and I was not looking forward to it. Our old dentist had sold the practice and retired since last time I’d been. So I tried one of the ‘children’ dentists, as my friend calls the younger ones. He was very gentle and conservative and thought it best to just grind off the sharp corner and watch the tooth for a while. All good. The odd part was the protocol. First of all, they had told me to wait in the car in the parking lot when I arrived, because they aren’t allowed to use their waiting room. Apparently I was also supposed to call them when I arrived, which someone forgot to tell me, or I didn’t hear–it’s a lot to absorb sometimes with all the new regulations. But given they can look out the windows and see cars and the occupants, I thought perhaps they would just see that I was there. When I’d been sitting there for a few minutes, they called me and asked if I was coming. I said “yes, I’m here!” She replied “Oh, just come to the front door and we’ll meet you there.” The dentist met me at the front door with sanitiser, then when I got into his room, the dental assistant met me with more sanitiser, and after that I still had to wash my hands!! Then I had to rinse my mouth with disinfectant, spit into a paper cup that was then disposed of, and finally put on the extra large bib and plastic glasses. I did feel for a minute like I was living in a sci-fi film, or had leprosy and no one told me.
But I still have a life and it is still filled with simple moments of joy.
Despite daily physical therapy exercises for years, occasionally the muscle in my upper left thigh still plays up. I know when it does that, if I jog uphill at the start of my morning walks, it somehow sorts out the problem, and in a few days or a week it stops hurting. After five days of pre-walk jogs, I started out of the house and realised it was fine, no more pain.
There was a full moon and I thought I’d jog up the steep hill to the third tee, just for extra measure. It had been months since I’d scrambled around the rocky outcrops, chasing early morning light for photo opportunities. That morning was the Flower Supermoon and it was especially bright and beautiful, so I had special incentive.
As I crunched around the rocks and dry plants, looking for good vantage points from which to photograph, I thought about how comforting it is to do something enjoyable, however simple it may be. In fact, I’m quite partial to simple things. I was also listening to a gentle discussion via a favourite podcast, about a favourite book by Pema Chödrön, ‘When Things Fall Apart’. It is so full of wise passages…
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart
We still have a life, and the moments of joy amidst the inconvenience, anxiety and sadness, are there to be seen. We just have to look for them and allow them to exist with everything else.
Dale Robards said:
This was brilliant. Thank you!
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Thank you so much Dale, nice to hear from you!
Thank you for putting down the words… that I’m not alone in my musings renders my amusement at reading them somewhat sweeter. Is it fanciful to imagine our the subjects of our conversations over the first glass of wine as the sun sets behind our front verandah once we are done with them sail off into the ether and alight on an amenable other? In writing your own social distancing reflections, on the whole you could be expressing mine sans thankfully the dentist visit, and hugs… I’m not much of a hugger. Before covid19 our daily summary habitually remarked on our busy-ness concluding it’s a trapping of a rich life, not always easy, not without challenges but rewarding, more importantly. These weeks of iso, despite little changing in our world it has been many versions of the same recitation.. so happy so grateful this is our life. Most pre-lunchtimes Deez-dog and I walk to and around the reserve-oval while having a game of dog tennis, from the far side I look back over the village… and enjoy a tangible sense of satisfaction that we made the choices that got us here where and when we needed. By contrast those weeks of bushfire constantly alert iso were too fraught for reflection but they too were liveable. I think this take it make the best of it as it comes is courtesy of our conscious life philosophy… in what we think, feel, experience, say and are, we have a choice to affirm the best of it, or the worst.
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Thank you Dale. I felt I had to write this because I meet or read about more people every week who discretely mention very similar thoughts, so much so that I began to realise there are quite a few of us. We are grateful for our lives and decisions we have made to gain us these lives and those are no small things. Gratitude is a wonderful thing, priceless but inexpensive. We can all have some. From my lips to your ear…
Bettyann Marx said:
I love reading everything you share!
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
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That’s so nice, thank you Bettyann.
Yes, we do ALL have a life and I loved this piece….I feel the same, thanks for sharing Ardys.
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Thank you Donna, I’m glad to know you are doing well.
I have the same thoughts, Ardys. I too, have kept ample supplies here and we roll with what life presents to us. I can barely watch the dreadful newscasts here and so many marketing commercials telling us how “devastating and difficult” times these are. Fear and depression apparently are widespread with this pandemic, and so we should be considering taking some new drug to offset the emotional discomfort and pain we feel. Bah!! Most of the people I am connected with here, seem to take this in stride and make the best of what it has to offer. I love Pema Chodron’s books and her matter-of-fact writing. This is real life, with occasional bumps and potholes in the road we travel. There are beautiful scenic vistas and lovely experiences to take in along the way too. I never linger too long in those potholes – I find a way to counter around them or gently traverse through, being thankful on the other side that I made it through. Our unrealistic expectations of how life should be is where we land in trouble. I still believe, we get every experience we’re supposed to in this life. There are no mistakes.
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We are of like minds, Lori. We are hearing much the same here about the fear and depression and I’m wondering how much of it is real and how much is exaggerated by news and social media? I imagine some people are fearful and depressed, and some even have cause to be, but a lot of people have misplaced priorities and live unconsciously, too. I’m glad to know you are rolling with it. xx
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